Patrick Mahomes has made himself a perennial MVP candidate since he became the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. He did so by winning the MVP award in his first season as a starter back in 2018.
But those looking to criticize the young superstar could point at the fact that he always had a handful of weapons on offense. Most notably, he always had Tyreek Hill as his top receiver.
Hill was known to improvise at will and get open no matter what defense he was facing. His star quarterback could scramble around and buy time, while Hill would find an opening with his elite speed and create a big play.
But the receiver is now with the Miami Dolphins in a move that has shaken up the entire AFC. Regardless, the Chiefs are not yet doomed, given Mahomes continues his elite play without his former top receiver. Even playing at a similar level without Hill around should mean he is a near-lock for the MVP award this season.
Patrick Mahomes can continue to prove his greatness with a familiar cast
Mahomes targeted Hill a whopping 159 times in 2021 and connected on 111 of those passes. The receiver had 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns. Yet there was still a sense of balance in this prolific offense.
Travis Kelce was second with 92 receptions for 1,125 yards and nine touchdowns. Mecole Hardman added 59 receptions, which is notable given how much attention was paid to Hill and Kelce.
The likely shift in 2022 is that defenses can pay more attention to Kelce in the Chiefs offense. Hill will not be running wild through the secondary, allowing Kelce to sit and wait in zones. However, an improved Hardman could easily change that notion.
Overall, fans are waiting to see if it was Hill or Mahomes that was boosting the other. If it were the former, fans would find out quickly as the Chiefs offense will struggle mightily out of the gate. Yet if everything flows the same or better, it will be crystal clear that Mahomes is genuinely the most valuable player in the NFL. As long as he’s around, the Chiefs are in great hands.
It is still entirely possible that both players are elite and capable of finding success no matter where they go. The MVP award has become chiefly a quarterback award, so Mahomes lighting it up without Hill is more award-worthy, at least in the eyes of voters, than Hill doing well with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.
A quarterback doing more with less and already having an MVP to his name is an easy case to take home the award.